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Dangers of the Nentir Vale
Steal This Hook
by Robert Wiese

The civilized world has been reduced to a series of points of light in a great wilderness of danger and monsters. The mighty empire of Nerath fell long ago, and the Bloodspear War devastated the Nentir Vale and surrounding lands. Into this outpost of civilization your campaign’s player characters have been dropped. The world depends on them, and their bravery, to stem the tide of dangers that still threaten the small pockets of civilization.

Sound like a great intro to a post-apocalypse movie, doesn’t it? That statement also describes a new philosophy of the D&D game. The setting has a lot more room in which to adventure, and a lot more danger exists in that area. This month, we look at hooks that involve dangers from the unknown wilderness.

Slaves of the Drow

A poster in the center of Fallcrest was tacked on several trees near the parts of town where people frequently visit. “Winterhaven needs help! Please come before no one is left.” That’s all it says. Written in rough script, it nonetheless offers excitement. “Meet me at the Blue Moon tonight” it says on the bottom. “More will be revealed of this tragedy to those interested in helping.”

d100 Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

00-40: People in Winterhaven are being kidnapped by drow raiders that come over the Cairngorm Peaks (or under them). The slaves are taken into the Underdark through a tunnel north of the Winterbole.

41-55: The drow are working with bugbears and giants from the Stone March, and they give some of the captives to these humanoids for slaves or meals or to trade with other humanoid races.

56-65: People in Winterhaven feel a strong compulsion to go into the Cairngorm Peaks to look for gold. These compulsions are magical in nature and come during the night in dreams. The people leave as soon as they wake up, with little or no equipment, and do not return.

66-85: Once in the Cairngorm Peaks, wyverns or a dragon hunt and kill the people, or the people are drawn toward a hidden gold mine that is run by a mind flayer. The people become enslaved to the mind flayer and work the mine, forgetting their origins.

86-00: The people are disappearing because secretly a tale of drow enemies is circulating, and someone is recruiting hardy folk to form an army against the darkness. Not all the townspeople are being told because those forming up the army prefer not to cause a panic.

What Happened in Hammer’s Deep?

Sitting outside at a tavern on the edge of Hammerfast, you see a dwarf stagger into town from the east and fall to the ground. From where you sit, you can hear him mumbling “dwarves gone, dwarves gone,” as if he’s trying to remember something. You can tell that without serious healing he won’t survive more than a few minutes. He looks up, and as soon as he sees you, he starts this story in a kind of panic as if he doesn’t think he’ll live to finish it.

“Deep beneath the Dawnforge Mountains, dwarves mine for the minerals that are traded and worked in Hammerfast and the lands to the south. One of their main settlements is called Hammer’s Deep. When I arrived there yesterday, I found the entire city deserted. No bodies, no dwarves, no animals, nothing alive at all. As I was looking around, I heard large creatures moving in the main tunnel from below, and grunts and howls and a lot of scary sounds. I admit, I ran. Fast. I’ve been running ever since, without any rest. Something pursued me, though. Flying shadowy creatures attacked me as I reached the Vale. I found the energy to flee them, but they attacked again just a few thousand yards from here. I couldn’t escape them and was left for dead. I managed to get here after that…”

d100 Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

00-35: The underground city was attacked by undead flying creatures led by a ghost or lich. All the people were driven off, and some are still alive in hiding. Every living thing was eaten or driven off.

36-50: A prophecy in this city says that a lava flow will break free into the city area and destroy everything, and the people have been told by their gods that the prophecy is about to come true. Thus, everyone in the city left with their animals to a place of safety to await the devastation, which had not come by the time the dwarf came by the city.

51-60: A disease was brought to the city, and madness ensued. The people turned on one another, and a great bloodbath took place as everyone killed everyone else. Even the animals were slaughtered in the madness. After everyone was dead, corpse feeders ate the remains. Visitors can see signs of what happened in the city, but the dwarf did not remember them in the confusion of whatever drove him from the city. He might remember more with healing and quiet.

61-75: Demons broke into the world somewhere below the city, either because the dwarves mined down to them, or because there was a weak spot in the fabric of reality, or because a wizard or warlock was creating the breach in her hidden base beneath the city. When the demons broke through it, they made their way up to the city and slaughtered everything. They have since moved on and might even have reached the surface by the time the PCs reach the area. A demon horde would be a significant problem for the PCs and the residents of the Nentir Vale.

76-85: The people of the dwarven city are still there as ghosts that cannot be perceived. They walk the line between this plane and the Plane of Shadow, waiting for help. They have limited means of communicating with the real world, so their attempts look like hauntings or attacks.

86-00: A deep dragon has moved into the city and set up its lair there, since the place is empty and all.

The Haunted Winterbole

“So, my cousin lives in Nenlast, a tiny place up by Lake Nen,” says the loquacious woman who sits down at your table in the Blue Moon Alehouse in Fallcrest. “There’s probably not more than 100 or so people in the whole village, which was bigger before the Bloodspear War. But then, what wasn’t? Anyway, my cousin’s in trouble, and that’s why I wanted to talk to you.” As she says this, she gestures to the barkeep for another round for your table.

“Nenlast is just south of the Winterbole Forest on the east side of Lake Nen, and they fish there. It’s not at all exciting, and I don’t know why the poor man stays. Especially with the haunting. Oh, yes, they’re haunted. At least, that’s what he wants me to believe. He wrote that something in the forest has been active, and that strange noises and cries echo out of the woods every few nights. Probably a lot of drink in those noises, because what else do you do at night in a remote place like that. But then again, it might be true. I’d like you to go there and take a look for me. He is my cousin, after all, and what kind of a relative would I be to ignore his plea for help.”

d100 Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

00-35: The noises come from a woodland cult that is sacrificing fey creatures to an evil god or demon. The cult is careful to stay away from Nenlast, and it is not aware that its noises have been heard. If the cult did find out, it would probably do what it could to enhance the legend of the haunted woods so that the people of Nenlast would leave the cult alone.

36-45: The source of the noises is a community of treants and shambling mounds that are fighting over a tract of wooded land. Elves and eladrin in the area are trying to prevent the destruction of the woods, but mostly they are caught in the middle and killed.

46-65: A ghost of a man who was killed by an evil satyr or a green dragon haunts these woods. He cannot pass on until a condition is met.

66-75: The noise comes from a group of Bloodspear orcs that have settled this far east, and they are logging in the woods. They are creating the impression of supernatural events to keep the people of Nenlast away. After they build up strength, they plan to swoop down on Nenlast and take over the village. Part of that strength comes from a green dragon that lives in the main part of the Winterbole.

76-85: The makers of the noise also create fires that burn in the night, giving a ghostly flickering light (because they use magic to make the fire light look otherworldly) that is dangerous to the woods. A forest fire might break out in the area, and that would threaten Nenlast and possibly the entire vale.

86-00: Whatever was making the noise was recently slain by trolls, and so the haunting has apparently stopped by the time the PCs arrive in Nenlast. But the trolls are a real danger, too, and if the PCs don’t go into the Winterbole, then the trolls come to Nenlast.

About the Author

Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda, son Owen, and newborn daughter Rebecca.
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